When I met Simon Gentry for a coffee early the other morning, the people behind the counter at the Starbuck’s on Hawthorne knew his name and drink order. Gentry’s new studio, The Photobooth on Montrose, is located a few short blocks away, and the caffeine has been a necessity as he's worked night and day to get the space ready for its early September opening.
Gentry has had a camera in hand since the age of 7, when, for lack of participants, the family cat often served as his model. Now an established photographer, he has shot locally for Jane Weiner of Hope Stone, PaperCity, the Houston Symphony and more.
Though he might be something of an expert, Gentry does have advice for novice photographers, and says that a used Nikon F1 makes an ideal starter camera. If you're the type who would rather leave the photo taking to the experts, however, you're in luck — that's Gentry's first intention for his studio.
Gentry wants the same feeling to permeate his studio – upon entering, please feel free to be who you want to be.
Aside from serving as a work space for Gentry, The Photobooth will offer the arts community an alternative place to show their work. With a key location in the heart of Montrose, The Photobooth aims to be a low-cost option for non-profit arts organizations to present performing artists, poets, dancers and other artists with a new locale to display their talents. The stark white walls will act as a blank canvas, and props and treated floating walls will enhance, but not outshine, the performances.
The studio takes its name from a childhood memory of Gentry's. Growing up in London, he had easy access to flash photo booths, including at the local supermarket. His affection for the idea of stepping into a photo booth, leaving the real world behind and cutting loose remains with him to this day, and he wants the same feeling to permeate his studio – upon entering, please feel free to be who you want to be.
The fish bowl-like windows in the front will allow passersby a full view of the action inside; it’s guaranteed to catch your attention, just as the auspicious “space for lease” sign on the same corner caught Gentry’s eye as the site for his new playplace. It was kitchy kismet from the start. Celebrate The Photobooth on Montrose's grand opening Tuesday night from 6 to 8 p.m.